Installing Ubuntu 12.04 on Malibal Satori P170EM

I received my new laptop for work. My goal is to install Ubuntu 12.04 LTS x64 on the machine which is described in this article.

Configuration

The laptop configuration is as below:

  • 17.3″ 1920 x 1080 FHD LED Backlit Matte Display
  • Intel® Core™ i7-3740QM, 6MB L3 Cache, 2.7-3.7GHz
  • (32GB) 32768MB, PC3-12800/1600MHz DDR3 – 4 SO-DIMM
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 670MX (Kepler) 3GB GDDR5
  • 750GB 7200rpm 2.5″ SATA 300 Hybrid w/ 8GB NAND Flash
  • 240GB Intel® (520) SATA III 6Gb/s SSD2 Drive
  • 6X Blu-ray Burner 8X DVD+/-R DL Super-Multi Drive
  • Intel® 6235 Advanced-N 802.11A/B/G/N LAN and Bluetooth Card
  • Integrated Full Size Backlit Keyboard (7 Switchable Colors)
  • Integrated 2.0 Megapixel Web Camera
  • Integrated 9 in 1 Card Reader
  • Integrated Fingerprint Reader
  • Hard Drive Caddy For Optical Bay

In addition, I have added the following components which are not provided by Malibal:

  • Plextor PX-256M5M mSATA SSD 256 GB
  • Western Digital 1TB WD10JPVT

Hardware Installation

The documentation for the laptop states that the mSATA is factory-implemented. At first, I assumed that it would be not possible to install the SDD in the laptop for that reason. However, I gave it a try and opened the mainboard’s cover, which is located below the LCD screen.

The mSATA port is the one labelled as “TV Tuner” which is totally wrong. I gave it a try and installed the Plextor drive. Worked like a charm.

The 1 TB hard disk would go into the drive bay. Remove the cover and remove the screw that holds the blue-ray drive so you can remove it from the laptop (later). The hard disk itself is easily mountable into the hard drive caddy.

BIOS Setup

First step is to change the default operating system in the BIOS. Otherwise, it is not possible to install an unencrypted boot sector to the disks. Windows 8 comes with encrypted boot sectors, and modern BIOSes are preconfigured to this. Change the setting to “Other OS” in the BIOS.

Installation Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

My initial goal was to install Ubuntu 12.10 on the laptop, but I gave up because I could not get the graphics card running. A try with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS was more successful, even though the NVIDIA chip is not working either. At least I get a working screen with full resolution. I will wait for a working graphics driver which will hit Ubuntu eventually.

The standard Ubuntu ISO image uses a graphical installer which is not working with the laptop (most probably because the Ubuntu drivers for the Nvidia Card are not compatible to the GeForce GTX 670MX. Therefore, the minimal ISO with the text installer is required.

I went through the installer and used the guided partitioning for the Plextor SSD (where I want the system to be installed on, because it is the fastest disk in the system). I tried to setup the other hard disks during the installation (e.g. 750 GB SATA as the /home) but failed to do so in combination with LVM and encryption. Therefore I stick with the installation on the Plextor only and will later configure the home disk.

Important was to install the boot loader (GRUB) on /dev/sdc instead of the master boot record. For some reason, this failed. So the boot loader is on the boot record of the Plextor SSD.

Updating the Kernel

I have experienced random system freezes when running Ubuntu 12.04 with the default 3.2 based Linux kernel. The following commands have been used to update the kernel to the 3.5 version:

sudo apt-get install linux-image-generic-lts-quantal

In addition, I also installed the new X stack, whatever the advantage is:

sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-lts-quantal

Installation NVIDIA Drivers

I installed current NVIDIA drivers using the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia linux-headers-generic-lts-quantal

Installation Cinnamon Desktop

I don’t like the Ubuntu Unity desktop – it’s trying to mix elements from tablets with desktops which is fine if you’re running Ubuntu on a tablet. However, if you’re using the system with a mouse, its not very user friendly, at least in my holy opinion.

I have worked with the Gnome 3 Shell which can be installed in Ubuntu, but its just a little better. Another problem is that when installing Gnome 3 Shell with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, I’m experiencing a lot of system freezes on the Malibal, which seems odd to me. I’m not sure if the problem is related to the Gnome 3 Shell, but I had much more system freezes when it was installed or in use.

Finally, I have found the Cinnamon desktop which is included in Linux Mint. It’s easy to use, looks great, and very easy to install:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cinnamon

Installation SD Card Reader

Malibal has installed a Realtek PCIE Card Reader to the laptop. Drivers for Linux can be found on Realtek’s Web site. I have downloaded the PCIE RTS5209 card reader driver for Linux. Extract the archive and change into the folder. Execute the following commands to compile and install the drivers:

make
sudo make install
sudo depmod
reboot

This is not working. Not sure which SD reader has been built into the system.

Conclusion

Installation works, except for the NVIDIA graphics card. I’m still experiencing a freeze a day, which I will report to the Ubuntu developers once I have traced the problem down to some source.

6 thoughts on “Installing Ubuntu 12.04 on Malibal Satori P170EM

    • Just a note to myself:

      To fix the broken stack, enter recovery mode of latest 3.5 kernel, enable networking in recovery mode (plus: mount local file systems), and reinstall alternative X stack with the following command:

      sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-lts-quantal

  1. “…mSATA port is the one labelled as “TV Tuner” which is totally wrong…”

    Well, I do not really disagree, but some background may help it make a bit more sense. mSata is really just a minicard slot with wiring that goes to the sata controller. In some cases, such slots are dual-wired, so they can also support pcie-based minicard devices (such as a tv-tuner). The older malibal/clevo laptops had minicard ports dual-wired for pcie & usb devices, such as wifi cards.

    Anyways, although most of the clevo laptop-models in recent years have not actually *included* the tv-tuner minicard, let alone the coax-input-cable, the space on the motherboard to hold the optional tv-tuner was always marked off and labelled. Recent clevo laptops are now re-using that minicard real-estate to house mSata drives, but inertia has kept the tv-tuner labelling around.

    Did you ever solve your Ubuntu crashes? I’m about to put it onto an np8180/p180hm, which is the older generation, and was curious if you ever got your distro and driver stuff figured out.

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